We play songs of our Zimbabwean heritage, taught to us by family and close friends
So what is Mbira? Well, it's an instrument traditional to Zimbabwe, though there are many variations of the instrument found throughout Africa and maybe even farther afield. There is a joyful, spiritual and painful history associated with Mbira playing which carries on until this day. If you catch us on a good day, we may just tell you about it.
Listening and observing was the original way to learn, and we'd love to share this experience with you
The Mbira itself is made of metal keys bound to a hardwood base and often placed in a deze (calabash) to amplify the sound. Traditionally, the wood used was from theMubvamaropa tree, which translates as 'the one who bleeds', and once you see this image you'll know why.
Mubvamaropa (pterocarpus angolensis) is a medicinal tree with many other uses too. For Mbira players the name and nature of the tree is a reminder of the responsibility to take care of nature. So although we need wood, to build, make and medicate, we have to try and leave nature as intact we found it - use but not abuse. Therefore the Mbira makers would only ever cut the branches of larger trees to make instruments from or else use naturally fallen trees. It's sad to say that the loss of Pasichigare way of life has meant the loss of more and more trees.
Borrow and benefit from nature, but not destroy
- mbira makers' philosophy
A spiritual way of life based on love and respect of nature, respect of ancestors and playing your role for the betterment of the community - some of which is expressed through playing Mbira. Pasi (earth) chigare (in existence) meaning, we as people will come and go, but the earth remains. Various people may have their own interpretation, but this is our understanding and interpretation.
Ancestral family name, or totem, which reminds us about Pasichigare and the importance of each individual, family and community in the the well-being of Pasi. For each Mutupo, there is detembo redzinza - poetry celebrating character and lineage story. Our Mutupo is Moyo Chirandu. Sons of our family are known as Ganyamatope and daughters are known as Mamoyo.
And there's so much more to say! Accompanying instruments, traditional fabrics, when mbira is played and when it is not... Watch this space for more.